March 3, 2017
What makes a par-3 memorable? A unique design element? A fascinating backstory? A place in professional golf lore? Or is it just a je ne sais quoi? Ireland has a vast selection of par-3s that meet all the aforementioned requirements and more. Read on to learn about some of the best par-3s on the Emerald Isle, according to the Carr Golf Travel Team.
1. Lahinch Hole No. 5 – “The Dell”
A blind par-3, the Dell’s long, shallow green is hidden between two 30-foot high sand dunes. Designed by Old Tom Morris in the 1890s, this iconic hole has remained untouched through two-course renovations.
This is one of Sean Benville’s favorite holes in Ireland: “There is a small stone set on top of the dune which acts as a pointer to the green. If you manage to find the green in regulation, the hard work is only half done as it is two-tiered and three-putts are common. This hole is considered the signature hole at Lahinch and it certainly is a talking point for first-timers playing the course. The course has gone through some big-name renovations since Old Tom Morris originally designed it, however neither Alister MacKenzie nor Martin Hawtree saw fit to tinker with the notorious Dell.”
2. Waterville Hole No. 12 – “The Mass Hole”
Part of the appeal of Irish links is the storied history that goes with many of the iconic courses. Waterville boasts many an intriguing tale, with the story of the “Mass Hole” being a favorite amongst history buffs.
Peter Keighery lists the 12th as one of his favorite holes due to its historical significance.“Catholics used to have mass in the hollows below the green back in the days when mass was outlawed,” explains Byrne.
According to Irish lore, the space that course designer Eddie Hackett originally wanted to use for the putting surface was “sacred ground” according to Irish laborers building the course. Therefore, Hackett decided to put the green atop a dune opposite the tee instead, where it remains today.
3. Portmarnock Hole No. 15
Portmarnock is a favorite amongst professional golfers including Rory McIlroy. The course’s signature hole, the coastal 15th, is lauded for its ocean views and difficult play. The 204-yard par-3 is protected by a trio of bunkers surrounding the green. Two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw christened the par-3 the “shortest par-5 in golf,” after carding two double bogeys on the hole on his way to winning the 1976 Irish Open.
4. Royal Portrush Hole No. 14 – “Calamity Corner”
“Calamity at Royal Portrush is one of the toughest holes in golf,” says Byrne. The 210-yard 14th looks as difficult as it plays as the green is on the edge of a 100-foot precipice. Reaching the green requires a long carry over a deep ravine. Golfers who miss right are almost guaranteed a double bogey as the ball will journey down a steep slope with few obstacles to slow its momentum.
5. Old Head Hole No. 7
“The walk alone to the seventh tee box at Old Head is worth the green fee,” says Mike Brassil. “Winding through the old village you past the ruins of the 1665 Sir Robert Reading Lighthouse, a primitive structure with an open coal fire protruding through the roof. Along the walk you also pass a George Halpin-inspired, 42-foot lighthouse. To your right the sea batters the land bridge between Old Head and the mainland. Sea arches, caves and sea stacks are a plenty not to mention a host of marine life traversing the bay, dolphins, seals and basking shark are all regular visitors.
The tee box is among the highest points of elevation on Old Head, not quite panoramic but nonetheless a view that is best described as heaven on earth.
The hole itself is truly all or nothing. There is no awardable lay-up option; if you hit short you are either going to find the greenside bunker or get caught up on the bank or rough. Prevailing wind is hurting and pushing the ball right where the Atlantic sea awaits. The only option is to be brave and hunt the pin.”
Tralee Hole No. 16
Royal County Down Hole No. 10
Portstewart Hole No. 6
Waterville Hole No. 17